Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Pola X

[Written for Film.com]

Herman Melville’s novel Pierre, or the Ambiguities, was widely reviled when it was published, just as Leos Carax’s film of Pierre has been generally maligned. Melville’s book came along in the wide wake of a little thing called Moby-Dick, and even if it had not, it’s a very strange novel—seemingly a put-on of a certain kind of fruity romantic tale, but stretched past the point of parody. It’s weird, but interesting-weird.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton

2000 Eyes: John Frankenheimer interview

[Written for The Herald]

One of the cool things about John Frankenheimer is that he really looks like a classic American director. Tall, and still athletic-looking at the age of 70, Frankenheimer has a white-haired, hawk-faced largeness about him. Of course, it probably helps that I am meeting him in a Seattle hotel room so big it seems positively Roman emperor scaled. The director is here to do publicity for his new thriller Reindeer Games, but I am delighted to discover him just as willing to talk about his previous films.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton

2000 Eyes: Shadow Magic

[Written for Film/com]

The lovely subject of Shadow Magic is enough to carry this somewhat awkward film over its rough spots and slow patches. The setting is Peking, around the year 1902, when Chinese culture was still fairly insulated from outside influence. We meet a photographer, Liu (Xia Yu), a very curious fellow in a society that discourages his curiosity. He plays with a Victrola, he builds himself a Zoetrope — he can’t stop fiddling around with things that have no place in his world.

Quite literally stumbling into Liu’s life comes Raymond Wallace (Jared Harris), a Westerner toting some very exotic equipment. Wallace’s scheme is to bring the newfangled technology of the Cinematograph — or motion picture, whatever you want to call it — to China. He is met with suspicion and hostility at every turn but, being a brash young man, sets up shop anyway.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton

2000 Eyes: Red Planet

[Written for Film.com]

Carrie-Anne Moss may be playing the captain of a mission to Mars, but she’s still subject to that ancient sci-fi convention: the non-essential shower scene. You’ve come a long way, baby, sort of. Actually, the shower scene in Red Planet tries to turn the tables, by having commander Moss unashamedly naked in front of the mission’s “maintenance man,” Val Kilmer, and thus dictating the sexual dynamics of the moment. But it’s still a shower scene.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Shaft

[Written for Fim.com]

In this remake, Richard Roundtree, the original John Shaft, graciously passes the torch to Samuel L. Jackson. The new film’s director, John Singleton, gives Roundtree some major respect, including a scene where Roundtree exits a Harlem bar with two foxy ladies on his arms. Right on: after all these years, still a sex machine to the chicks. (That’s Gordon Parks, the distinguished American artist and director of the first Shaft, in a cameo at the same bar.)

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Dr. T and the Women

[Written for The Herald]

There are two parts to the title Dr. T and the Women. Let’s take each part separately.

The women are the ladies in the orbit of Dr. Sully Travis, a Dallas gynecologist. Dr. T has a wife (Farrah Fawcett) who is quietly losing her mind, a sister-in-law (Laura Dern) with Ivana Trump inclinations, and two daughters. The elder daughter (Kate Hudson, of Almost Famous), a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, is about to get married, causing much hullabaloo; the younger daughter (Tara Reid, from American Pie) gives tours of the JFK assassination plaza, and sees conspiracies wherever she looks. A golf pro (Helen Hunt) at Dr. T’s country club also figures in his life, as a possible new direction for his emotional energy.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: The Legend of Bagger Vance

[Written for Film.com]

As an actor and director, Robert Redford seems sincerely and deeply drawn to American mythology, from the mystic fishermen of A River Runs Through It to those western archetypes the Sundance Kid and Jeremiah Johnson to that most sacred of literary mysteries, The Great Gatsby. Every minute of The Natural oozes with the urge to create myth out of Americana, which may be why that movie feels like a Redford film even though it was directed by Barry Levinson.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Bait

[Written for Film.com]

The plot is convoluted, so stick with me. A two-bit thief, Jamie Foxx, is busted for a robbery at a seafood plant—he had a briny notion to steal shrimp and sell ’em as scampi. The guy spends half a day in a cell with a much more ambitious thief (Robert Pastorelli), who’s gotten away with 42 million bucks’ worth of government gold bars; during his heist, he betrayed a brainiac partner (Doug Hutchison). Like the feds, Hutchison would like to know where the gold is buried. But Pastorelli dies in custody, from a heart ailment.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Shadow Hours

[Written for Film.com]

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Terror is a Man, aka Blood Creature, a 1959 film that might be called—in fact, let’s do it—the Citizen Kane of Filipino horror movies. Essentially a variation on (read: uncredited rip-off of) The Island of Dr. Moreau, Terror is a Man is an atmospheric little shocker that partakes of the usual violence level of a movie of its era.

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Posted in: by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, The Seasoned Ticket

The Seasoned Ticket: Jazz on a Summer’s Day

The restoration of the classic concert film Jazz on a Summer’s Day is now making the rounds, and it can be watched in a way that will benefit a movie theater of your choice. The Grand Illusion, for instance.

If you’re into jazz as a subject—fiction films, concerts, documentary profiles—Scarecrow has more titles than you could watch in the course of a long weekend in Newport. Check out the selection and rent accordingly. In the meantime, a review of the film.

Continue reading at the Scarecrow Video blog